Outland is the first book in the Quantum Earth series by Dennis E. Taylor and today the Audible Original audiobook drops for eager listeners everywhere. Narrated by Ray Porter, the story follows six college students and their attempt to stop civilization from ending with their experimental physics project.. While studying quantum uncertainty Bill Rustad and his fellow students inadvertently open a portal to Outland, another world that appears identical to Earth. When their own world is threatened by a cataclysmic event they will have to see if their accidental portal can keep humanity alive, even if it isn’t on our original Earth.
Even though Outland might seem like the perfect place to stay safe after the deluge of ash that fell when the Yellowstone supervolcano erupted, looks can be deceiving. With few resources and unexpected dangers the students and the survivors they brought through the portal will be forced to consider how they’ll survive in this new and unexpectedly alien landscape. While Outland had seemed like a perfect safe haven, it might ultimately have to become their new home. The book is tremendously informative and does provide readers with a great deal of knowledge concerning volcanoes and volcanic activity before delving into the more deadly elements of the plot. The physics project begins innocently enough with a group of male graduate students meeting, but then the plot takes a science fiction twist. The idea of a parallel dimension, or even dimensions, is established and Bill is drafted to help with building what they need in order to create some sort of device to help them realize their theories. Before the use of the portal to save human lives, the exploration being done by the team into the alternate worlds they’ve uncovered is full of intrigue and mystery. When they learn that somehow these other places are set in the same timeline as our current Earth they begin to delve into exploring, which involves some test trips with the group. These trips establish their understanding of Outland and do support why they think this is the safest place to go when danger arises. While the major trip to Outland does not occur until later in the book, there is still plenty of intrigue and danger as outsiders begin to become interested in what the team is doing. Our group find themselves fighting to protect their secret research, but eventually find themselves having to bring everything to light in order to do some good.
Audible Original’s benefit tremendously from the exceptional voice work of the narrators they select for each of their projects. Ray Porter is able to shift between the voices needed for each character smoothly and what I also appreciate is his ability to provide a solid narration outside of his character work. He ensures that when he is acting as the narrator that his voice is strong and solid, while also not using this voice inadvertently for any of the characters he is embodying throughout. Porter also provides diverse female voices, which is not something that all male narrators are able to achieve and I appreciate the talent this requires. As the daughter of a geologist the inclusion of this profession throughout made me smile, though I will admit that none of his field outings have involved anything as dangerous as intense heating elements or near apocalyptic disasters. He though does make the same sort of puns the geology instructor in this book uses, maybe that’s some sort of minor requirement for becoming a professor who focuses on rocks. Outland establishes a world that many science fiction lovers will enjoy. With the use of science experiments being done secretly as a basis for establishing the portal Taylor is connecting with an established pattern in the genre of renegade work bringing about major scientific changes and growth that would have been thwarted if left in the hands of those considered to be professionals. I also personally enjoyed the exploration of a new and Earth like world, which reminded me of some of my favorite series like Doctor Who. With a large cast of characters involved in the events in the book, Taylor is able to create very detailed personalities for each of them. You can listen to Outland on Audible today!